More than 130 dolphins and porpoises found dead

More than 130 dolphins and porpoises have been found dead along the Black Sea coast since the start of the war in Ukraine. Sonar of the main suspected warships.

Shared beach dolphins in Turkey. 1 credit

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Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine on February 24, more than 130 cetaceans including porpoises and dolphins have been found dead along the Turkish and Bulgarian Black Sea coasts. Everything indicates that marine mammals have been victims of intense military activity in the aquarium. Between Europe and Asia, in particular through the use of marine sonars to track submarines. Several studies have shown that these devices – including active medium-frequency sonar (MFA) – can cause real cetacean slaughter. Suffice it to say that about 80 Ziphius (Ziphius cavirostris) and Sowerby’s mesoplodonti (Mesoplodon Bidens) were found dead in Scotland and Ireland in the summer of 2018 after exercises by US and British ships in the Atlantic (but they are believed to have died. Of them more than a thousand. ). At the moment, there is no absolute certainty that the deaths of cetaceans in the Black Sea was caused by the war in Ukraine, but experts believe that it is highly likely.

The Turkish Marine Research Foundation (Tudav) and the Bulgarian Green Balkans Organization, two environmental protection and conservation organizations, have sounded the alarm about the slaughter of cetaceans. The main victims of this event were the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), a species also found in the Mediterranean but, despite its name, is less widespread in our waters than in the past. More than 80 specimens were found stranded or fatally trapped in fishing nets near the Turkish coast. Since the outbreak of the war, 50 dead porpoises or black porpoises (Phocoena phocoena relicta) have been found along the Bulgarian coast. In both cases, the numbers of delinquency/deaths are much higher than those typically recorded during this time of year.

Odontoceti cetaceans such as dolphins, zephids, and sperm whales rely heavily on echolocation, using natural bio sonar to explore their surroundings and identify potential prey, friends and predators. Acoustic communication is essential for these animals, and loud noises from military sonar can have disastrous effects. According to the study “Advances in Research on the Effects of Anti-Submarine Sonar on Beaked Whales” published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the popular MFA sonar for military ships can reach nearly 200 decibels (a concert of rock stations. At 120 ). For cetaceans, this is an absolutely unbearable painful noise, which they try to get away from as quickly as possible. For species that dive to such great depths—like zephids—these impulses can cause so much pain and terror that they push them to the surface so quickly, condemning them to death from decompression sickness, like the one that can affect divers when they reappear without respect. Basic boarding times.

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It is possible that dolphins and porpoises in the Black Sea moved as far as possible from the conflict zone where the anti-submarine ships were located and ended up in uncharted waters; Many of them got trapped in coastal fishing nets and drowned (cetaceans, like all mammals, have lungs and breathe oxygen from the air, so they must reappear). According to Tudav estimates, nearly half of the common dolphins along Turkey’s Black Sea coast are found trapped in nets. “Sound shocks are one possibility that comes to mind,” environmental organization chief Bayram Ozturk told the Guardian, referring to the whale deaths. Although the effect of military sonar is believed to be highly likely, there is currently no definitive confirmation. “We don’t have proof of what low-frequency sonar can cause in the Black Sea because we haven’t seen a lot of ships and a lot of noise for a long time – and science still requires proof,” the expert commented. According to Dr. Pavel Goldin of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, dolphins stranded and trapped in nets are victims of ship sonar, which would have pushed into unexplored waters in the south up to fish stocks that fed cetaceans. , with all the implications of the case.

As for porpoises, among the smallest cetaceans in the world (such as the endangered vaquita), the situation is very similar to that of ordinary dolphins. About 50 of these mammals are trapped in 72 kilometers of fishing nets, Dimitar Popov, executive director of the Green Balkans, told the Guardian. This is an impressive number especially in the spring, when there are much fewer so-called byctachs; Popov said that the number of porpoises killed since the beginning of the war corresponds to the height of the summer of 2019. Everything indicates that cetaceans are other victims of the tragic war in Ukraine, in addition to belugas and other cetaceans deployed by the Russian Navy in Crimea as “war dolphins”.

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